Posted: Sunday, March 25, 2012 - 6:05 p.m. PDT
State closes steelhead, whitefish fisheries
PATEROS - Upper Columbia tributaries, including the Methow River, close to steelhead and whitefish angling.
The state Department of Fish and Wildlife is closing fisheries on the Methow, Wenatchee and Icicle rivers because the maximum allowable mortality of natural origin steelhead from fishing has been reached.
The Wenatchee River will close an hour after sunset tonight, March 25, to steelhead fishing from the mouth to the Icicle Road bridge, including the Icicle River from the mouth to 500 feet downstream of the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery Barrier Dam.
The Methow is closing to steelheading from the mouth to the confluence with the Chewuch River in Winthrop.
The 2011-12 steelhead run is less than in recent years and has a relatively high proportion of natural origin steelhead, state officials said.
Areas that will close to fishing for whitefish an hour after sunset tonight, March 25, are the Wenatchee River from the mouth to the U.S. Highway 2 bridge at Leavenworth and the Methow River from Gold Creek to Foghorn Dam a mile upstream from Winthrop.
Fishing area locations remaining open to steelhead fishing until one hour after sunset March 31 are:
-Okanogan River from the mouth upstream to the U.S. Highway 97 bridge in Oroville (except for closed waters from the first powerline crossing downstream of the state Highway 155 bridge in Omak (Coulee Dam Federal Credit Union) upstream to the mouth of Omak Creek and from the Tonasket lagoons boat launch upstream to the Fourth Street bridge in Tonasket).
-Similkameen River from the mouth upstream to 400 feet below Enloe Dam.
General rules for locations remaining open to steelhead fishing:
-Mandatory retention of adipose fin-clipped steelhead, daily limit two hatchery steelhead, 20-inch minimum size. Hatchery steelhead are identified by a missing adipose fin with a healed scar in its location.
-Adipose-present steelhead must be released unharmed and cannot be removed from the water prior to release.
-Night closure and selective gear rules remain in effect.
Areas that will continue to be closed for steelhead and/or whitefish fishing:
-Main stem Columbia River from Rock Island Dam to Chief Joseph Dam.
-Entiat River (steelhead) upstream from the Alternate U.S. Highway 97 bridge near the mouth of the Entiat River to 800 feet downstream of the Entiat National Fish Hatchery.
-Entiat River from the mouth (Alternate U.S. Highway 97 bridge) to Entiat Falls.
Anglers must possess a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement as part of their valid fishing license.